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29 May 2017

How to Do Genealogy on the Cheap, the Right Way

Still Not Convinced You Need to Spend the Money to Order Records? Read this post | The Occasional Genealogist

Still Not Convinced You Need to Spend the Money to Order Records?

There is a great post on the Preserve the Pensions blog [Preserve the Pensions is a fundraiser to digitize the War of 1812 pensions, sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies]. This post highlights some great finds in War of 1812 pensions involving neighbors of the applicant/soldier. This is just one of the many benefits you'll often find when you use/order original records.

Don't Stop at the Index

The War of 1812 pensions are being digitized but you do know most genealogy records are not online, don't you? And even if they are online, they may not be images or they may not be searchable images. You can read my earlier post about unindexed images, here. You're going to have to order some records if you want to further your research.

Some genealogists find an index or database entry and stop there because it's not always easy or cheap to order the original record. It is definitely worth it, though. You can read the above-mentioned post on PreserveThePensions.org. It includes a link for a little more info on cluster research. You can also read a post about Bounty Land Warrant Applications, which is related.

29 April 2017

Subscription Savings | Digitizing | + Evernote

So I have three related items for today's post. This is essentially a combo follow-up to both last week's post on saving on your genealogy subscriptions and the lecture I gave Wednesday, "Evernote for Everything Else."

More on Saving on Subscriptions | Digitization first steps | Evernote

Alternative Subscriptions

First, I mentioned in last week's post that one way to save while doing more genealogy is drop a more expensive subscription in favor of a cheaper one (even if that is just a temporary option).
25 April 2017

The FREE DNA Tool You Need to Know

Happy DNA Day!

Are you interested in genetic genealogy? That’s genealogy using DNA testing. There is a great free tool you need to make sure you’re using.
The Free DNA Tool You Need to Know | The Occasional Genealogist


Before I launch into this post, let me lay the foundation for it. These are the basics many of you may understand, but if you don't, this post won't make sense (or won't be actionable).

I am assuming you have taken a DNA test. Alternatively, you might be considering taking one. What's important is, this is a tool you use on your results. This isn't a company to purchase a test from.

This tool is for autosomal DNA (atDNA). This is the type of DNA test sold by AncestryDNA, MyHeritage DNA, and 23 and Me. FamilyTreeDNA calls this their "Family Finder" test. There are some additional companies that also offer this type of test. Today, this is the most common type of DNA test taken for genealogy so there's a good chance it's what you have taken.

I have two primary goals for writing this post.
  • Make you aware of this free tool and why you should use it.
  • For current users of this tool, give you more ways to encourage your matches to use this tool.
24 April 2017

NGS Conference App +prep and planning

This just in...

The 2017 NGS Conference app is now available.
You can see details at, http://upfront.ngsgenealogy.org/2017/04/mobile-conference-app-now-available-for.html.

I'm posting not just to make sure you know this (if you're attending the conference) but for an additional reason.
21 April 2017

How to Save Money on Your Genealogy Subscriptions

There is really only one way to save big bucks on your genealogy subscription(s).

To get BIG savings you have to apply this method. It is a guaranteed method and probably the best way to also do high-quality research. The great thing is, even if you mess up, it can still save you money, there aren't any complicated coupons or special websites to visit.

How to save money on your genealogy subscriptions from The Occasional Genealogist.


Late April 2017 Update

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

Next week is a busy week in the genealogy world!
DNA Day sales, NGS Conference registration, Earth Day for genealogists | The Occasional Genealogist




DNA Day is April 25th. Why do you care? SALES! If you've put off buying a DNA test, this is THE time to do it. Choose whichever testing company you want, they probably have a sale.

I love FamilyTreeDNA because of their tools, prices, and you can get all three types of tests (at, mt, and Y). Here are their main three sale prices, there are additional items on sale, mainly related to Y-DNA tests.

Family Finder (atDNA---autosomal, this is the type of test from AncestryDNA and other genealogy DNA companies, for male and female testees)
normally $79 sale $59

mtDNA full sequence (mother's line, for male and female testees)
normally $199 sale $149

Y-DNA, 37 markers (father's line, for male testees, only; more marker tests are also on sale)
normally $169 sale $129

Find out about all your DNA testing options at FamilyTreeDNA


Join us in Raleigh, NC May 10-13, 2017 for the NGS Conference! |The Occasional Genealogist

You've got one week left to pre-register for the upcoming NGS Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, May 10-13, 2017!

This applies to registration for on-site events. If you can't join us in Raleigh, there are also live-streaming and recorded options so you can still learn from some of the amazing lectures being offered.

Check out this post for more details about recorded options, learn more about the conference in general, here.




Before the other events, Saturday is Earth Day. Last year I wrote a series of posts just for the occasion. You can check them out with the following links.



    18 April 2017

    NGS announces details of conference "Live Stream" plus more off-site options

    If you're an NGS member, you should have gotten an email about the "Live Stream" registration opening for the NGS Conference coming up in Raleigh in less than a month.

    If you're not an NGS member, why aren't you? It's one of the most value-packed "things" you will pay for in genealogy. But I bet you'd like to hear about the live streaming details that weren't emailed directly to you.

    NGS 2017 live stream and audio packages announced.


    This year there are 10 lectures being streamed live. These are divided into two tracks of five lectures each. One track is about DNA and the other is the BCG Skillbuilding track.
    14 April 2017

    Dos and Don'ts for Attending a National Genealogy Conference

    I LOVE attending the national genealogy conferences. Essentially there are two general national conferences and one specialty national conference. However, don't overlook the large regional conferences, I'm not mentioning them because this post is specifically about the Dos and Don'ts for the two general conferences.
    Dos and Don'ts for National Genealogy Conferences

    No RootsTech Today

    Let's get the specialty conference out of the way since this post isn't about it, specifically. The specialty conference is RootsTech. If you couldn't guess by the name, it's a technology conference. This is one of the two main differences between it and the two general conferences.

    The other difference, which is why I'm not including it in this post, is it does not travel. It is held in Salt Lake City each winter/early spring (the date sometimes varies a bit and since I don't know when you're reading this, I don't want to quote you the wrong date). These issues would make my Dos and Don'ts for RootsTech different than for general national conferences.

    So let's get into THIS post.

    NGS and FGS

    The two general national conferences are the NGS Conference and FGS Conference. They are very similar in structure, being hosted by two different national genealogy societies (the "National Genealogical Society" and the "Federation of Genealogical Societies").

    Genealogy Education Unplugged: Part II

    This is a continuation, the first part explains the benefits of spending your limited time on education and specifics of local society education.


    Genealogy Conference vs. Institute: Which is Right for You?


    Choosing Wisely: Conference or Institute


    At some point, you will need to take your genealogical education to the next level. National level in-person events, that is national conferences or national institutes, may be the best choice for you. Online options are another choice or you may be fortunate enough to find the same quality and quantity of education locally.

    You will find yourself stuck, making little to no progress, if you don't obtain this next level of education.
    10 April 2017

    What's happening in the Occasional Genealogist world?

    This post is a "round-up" of various small bits of information I want to share with you. These are time sensitive for mid-April 2017. Enjoy!

    Another New UPDATE

    Free Access to FamilyTreeWebinars.com

    This weekend only (April 14th to 16th). This is in celebration of their 500th webinar so that means you'll have access to 500 webinars for free!

    Get the details, here.

    New UPDATE

    Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Interactive Maps

    These had been down for quite a while but are now back with new features! Check it out, here.

    These interactive maps allow you to see the changing county boundaries in the U.S. from the Internet. While they were down, you could still download data or view static maps. I never find static maps that helpful for changing boundaries (although we obviously did that for decades before technology gave us other options).

    My solution for the lack of the interactive maps was to download the files to use in Google Earth. For locations I work in a lot, this is fantastic. You can save what you're working on and easily come back to it later. The customizations you can create can also really help you "discover" locational information that makes a difference in your research.

    However, you just don't always want to download files and use them in Google Earth. You may not want or know how to use Google Earth. You may be on a device where you can't use Google Earth. You might just want to quickly look at something. The interactive maps are great in these situations.


    Where's My FTM?

    07 April 2017

    Genealogy Education Unplugged: part 1

    Part I: Intro and Local Societies

    Intro

    One of the easiest ways to improve your genealogical skills is through lectures, classes, seminars, institutes, and other "taught" mediums. Being directed by a "teacher" is certainly simpler than having to find the information yourself. I'd also consider listening easier than reading. A live teacher, online or offline, also gives you the chance to ask questions.

    In the last decade, a lot of quality lectures have been coming online. Initially, these were mainly for less experienced genealogists but today you can find a lot more advanced topics and also specialty topics.

    This is great for genealogists who can't travel. And even if you can travel, it gives you more options. Some of these online options are free. The more in-depth or advanced ones usually cost money.
    If you've been taking advantage of these options, great! But have you overlooked the traditional educational opportunities? That is, offline lectures, classes, institutes, and conferences?

    This is a short series of articles about offline education. The online choices are getting better each day and change so fast, it's pretty hard to give an overview of them.

    To maximize your education, you should find a combination of online and offline education that works for you.
    Why should you spend your limited time on genealogy education? | The Occasional Genealogist

    Why Education for Occasional Genealogists


    23 March 2017

    Declutter Your Genealogy

    Recently I posted on "The Lunchtime Genealogist" series about decluttering your genealogy. I found this an intriguing idea and wanted to encourage others to consider it during a short session of genealogy (their lunch break).

    Aside from the obvious pile of papers, the concept of genealogical "clutter" needs more explanation.
    Declutter your genealogy to be more productive and more efficient. Both essential for Occasional Genealogists.


    I don't have all the answers about decluttering your genealogy but I think I've made a good start. My recently used genealogy files are essentially clutter-free. There is lots of clutter in other parts of my life but I've done a decent job of preventing it in my recent genealogy.

    That is the first thing you should start doing.

    17 March 2017

    Are You Stuck in Your Research?

    Are you stuck in your research? Try this solution.
    Have you been doing genealogy for a while but feel stuck and out of ideas? Maybe you've been trying to learn more but you keep hearing the same information over and over.

    Do you simply lack the time to find and read new educational material (whether books, blog posts, or articles)?

    Occasional Genealogists (OGs) need education as much, if not more, than often genealogists. Your genealogy knowledge grows a lot from experience. If you don't get to research a lot, you can really be hampered by a lack of education. To make the most of your limited research time, you should try and get as much education as possible.

    At some point, you've going to need to go beyond basic genealogy education and learn some more advanced techniques. But you're an Occasional Genealogist, how will you find the time?

    A great resource for bite-sized, but more advanced education, are the webinars from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). These webinars are for any genealogists, whether they are certified, want to be certified, are just trying to improve their skills, are professionals, want to be professionals, or are just avid hobbyists. That's right, these are webinars for hobbyists, too.

    If you feel like you keep learning the same thing over and over again from magazines, online lectures, and even blog posts, give the BCG webinars a try.

    The webinars are free when they're live. A few remain free as recordings. Previously the webinars were only accessible through the BCG website but now you can register (for free) for the live webinars and purchase recordings from Family Tree Webinars.

    Family Tree Webinars offers many other webinars. The BCG Webinars are most likely the most advanced. If you find them too advanced, try and find another webinar on a similar topic to help you fill in the gap between your current education and the BCG webinar.

    One of the great things about genealogy is it doesn't require formal schooling. If you don't want to find yourself permanently stuck, you need to self-educate, though.

    You probably need some "formal" education in the sense you should learn from a teacher/instructor, not just by reading. Reading is the primary way genealogists have always improved their knowledge. With the Internet, now we can conveniently learn from an instructor via live and recorded webinars, classes, and even on-going education.

    If you're ready to move to another level but need some quicker options or a one-stop-shop for more advanced material, the BCG webinars are a great place to start.
    08 March 2017

    Finding Female Ancestors: The Importance of Siblings

    This post has been migrated from my original blog for J.P. Dondero Genealogy.
    This post contains affiliate links.

    The importance of siblings is a topic that can be discussed for any genealogical problem but sometimes it may be the best or only way to research a difficult female ancestor.
    Finding Female Ancestors: Researching women is consistenly a challenge. If your mystery woman didn't create records, you may have to rely on alternative research avenues.


    A Grayscale of Social Interaction

    There are lots of suggestions for identifying records about your female ancestor but sometimes she just didn't create records.

    Your female ancestor may not have participated in society in a way that created lasting records. Women at the extremes of society have some of the best records available.

    Women very involved in social activities or social work may appear in records of those groups or in local histories. Women who defied female norms were likely to appear in court for breaking some law (this could be suffragettes or prostitutes or anything in-between, don't forget there are differences in norms and laws at different points in history).

    This also applies to a certain degree if her husband was at one end of the social spectrum. A wife may be a paragon of female virtues (for the time) but she may need to apply to civil or religious authorities for help if her husband doesn't provide for the family.

    This could be applying for money for food or schooling. It could also be taking advantage of a law that prevents all the family's assets (think not just a house but kitchen utensils, bedding, etc.) from being seized if the husband is in debt or owes taxes.
    27 February 2017

    Cemetery Photography Kit: List and Links

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Note: I have not used every product linked. These give you an idea what I'm recommending in general, in case you've never heard of the item. I do look for products on Amazon that are Prime eligible and have good ratings. I've said in the description if I've used the actual product linked. Otherwise, it is an example (but I believe a good one). Some of the links are similar items where you need to choose what will work for you (for example, the lids, you only need one, I've linked to three different styles).

    Supplies for an Awesome Cemetery Photography Kit

    Get your cemetery photography kit together for genealogy spring break!


    16 February 2017

    Recipe for Elephant ala Genealogy


    a bite-sized approach to research planning
    Today I'm going to give you a recipe for Elephant ala Genealogy. If you don't get it, it's that old joke about "how do you eat an elephant?" The answer is "one bite at a time." It's the same way you plan genealogy research.

    This is a bit-sized approach to doing genealogy planning, followed by research, and then the extremely important "reporting" step. This is not a recipe a professional genealogist would use for a client (it's for Occasional Genealogists) so I've adjusted the reporting step to make it easier to get started.

    I've laid out this recipe for 15-minute sessions because it's likely you can squeeze that amount of time in somewhere. Research planning of this type is easier if you do it frequently.

    You can also do this once a week for a longer time, just try and avoid redoing work each week because you don't remember where you left off. Figure out what you need to do so you know what to do next. That is a super valuable skill to learn so make it part of your process.

    08 February 2017

    Always Be Prepared, even if you're an Occasional Genealogist!

    This post contains affiliate links. A link to my disclosures can be found in the upper right.

    Today is the anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. By chance I have a post ready that's all about being prepared. No really, it's by chance.

    This post suggests a system I've been thinking about. I haven't implemented it, yet. It'll take some planning on my part to get it to become reality. I do intend to share it.
    Be ready to research next time you have free time!


    I've been wanting to share this idea but was originally planning to implement it, first. Since I haven't done that, I'd love for you to leave a comment with ideas or questions (or you can email me). I think this idea could be a game-changer for many Occasional Genealogists (I hope it is for me).
    07 February 2017

    Evaluating Evidence: Books

    Last April I wrote a post about ebooks. I periodically review my posts and I discovered this post in particular wasn't getting the attention it deserved. Why? It was mostly about evaluating books as evidence, with some ebook links at the end.

    So, I've pulled the evaluation part out and I'm putting it here, under a title that makes it clear what it is. I just wanted you to know in case you're one of the three people that read the old post and thought this sounded really familiar.
    Evaluating evidence is an important genealogical skill. It requires practice to perfect. Get started with books, a simple source to use and to evaluate.

    I've had several comments or emails lately about topics similar to this. It takes a few weeks to create a new post so I wanted to take this opportunity to try and address those responses quickly, since this post was already written.

    If you have questions, leave a comment (I'd prefer a comment if it will benefit others but you can email me, too).

    I know evaluating evidence isn't an easy subject. It's OK to ask questions and ask for help. That's what I'm here for.
    06 February 2017

    The #1 Tip to Help Anyone Use Evernote and Be More Productive

    This post is a bit different because it's not genealogy specific (so if you got here and aren't interested in genealogy, no problem). Anything that can save you time is related to being an Occasional Genealogist which is why I'm including it.
    This tip will get you up and running with Evernote plus make you more productive.


    I've heard this tip many times and didn't use it until I saw how it would help me and fit in my organizing system.
    05 February 2017

    A Super Bowl of Links: Atlanta (and Georgia)

    This is part two of my 2017 Super Bowl links. The New England links are here.

    I'm going to try to keep my cool and not give you every Georgia link I have saved. We would be here for ever and many are too specific to be of interest to the majority of Georgia researchers.

    A Super Bowl of Links: New England

    Well, I got lucky this year. Last year about this time I thought, "hey, I should post some genealogy links for the locations of the Super Bowl teams." I couldn't pull it off last year because I didn't have enough links for Colorado.

    If you've read this blog very much, you know all my ancestors are from Georgia. I have some links for you, go to this post. I can even provide Atlanta links. And New England isn't hard. Lucky me (or is it lucky you?).

    I'll be up front, I'm going to keep it somewhat short on the New England links. If you don't know, New England is known for their long history of recording vital records. There are civil and religious records for centuries. It's almost unsporting (since we're talking sports).

    I'm going to hit some of the big collections and I'll provide a handful of Massachusetts and Boston-specific links. If you're a New England expert, I doubt you'll find anything you don't know about. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite New England-related research link.
    31 January 2017

    More Reverse Genealogy

    Last week I wrote about what reverse genealogy is and why you'd try it. Today is "Backwards Day" so I'm covering how to research backwards (as in forwards, wait... what?)


    To recap, reverse genealogy is researching from the past to the present, the opposite direction, or backwards, from what we normally do.

    Last week I mentioned some uses for genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy as well as cases where non-genealogists might want to try reverse genealogy. How to go from the past to the present is easiest to understand with traditional genealogy so I'll start there and then move to harder situations.

    27 January 2017

    Finding Aids vs. Library Catalogs

    Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and I recently learned about a new finding aid that is appropriate to share today.

    Last week Upfront with NGS shared a notice they had received about the newly released online inventory of the International Tracing Service (ITS). You can read the post (with the link to the inventory), here.

    Realize this is a finding aid, not online records. If you haven't used finding aids, it's like a library catalog for a repository collection, sort of.
    Do you know what a finding aid is? How can it help your genealogy research?


    Some finding aids are incredibly in-depth, allowing you to identify exactly the record you want to access. Some are not even as detailed as a traditional book library catalog. There may be a catalog for the repository and finding aids, just a catalog, or just finding aids. It depends on the repository.

    The level of details given in a finding aid depends on the collection and the creator and every variable that affects those two aspects. You will see in the announcement published on the link above, that it mentions "preliminary or superficial indexing." That means someone has looked at the material. The "material" could be the boxes the records are in, not the actual contents.
    25 January 2017

    What's the Opposite of Genealogy?

    Today is National Opposite Day in the U.S. I have no idea why. I tried to look it up and the answer was, "no one's sure." I was just looking for "__________ Day" to give me ideas to mix up the topics on the blog. I think Opposite Day generated and important topic, "reverse genealogy."

    Do you know why you'd need to research descendants instead of ancestors? You might be surprised how it can help your research.


    What is reverse genealogy and why do you care?

    First, I wouldn't say reverse genealogy is the opposite of genealogy. I won't be answering the title question, I don't know what's the opposite of genealogy, maybe hiding your ancestry? Reverse genealogy can help you if your family tried to hide their ancestry.

    Let's get back to what it is, though.
    18 January 2017

    A round-up of bits from around the Internet

    I often find posts I'd like to share with readers but they don't warrant me writing a whole post about them. So, I'm going to try the "round-up" style post with bits of information from around the Internet. Right now, I don't expect to publish this regularly but we'll see.

    This is also a way for you to learn about other sources for information, genealogical or not.


    From Up Front with NGS (the official blog for the National Genealogical Society)

    NEW Chrome Extension Takes You to Wayback Machine for 404 Page Codes!!!
    I've already installed this extension I was so excited about it. I'll go months without needing the Wayback Machine but lately, I seem to use it a lot.
    As an example of how you might use this (if you never have)... Not too long ago I was reviewing a post from my business blog and found one of the links no longer worked. The company blog it linked to no longer existed (they were purchased by another company). The purchasing company didn't keep the blog. I was only able to get the article through the WaybackMachine. Needless to say, I saved an offline copy.

    If you've ever saved a link/URL for research and then later found it didn't work, the Wayback Machine can save you (and then you'll learn not to just save a link, time-consuming but necessary).


    Three Posts to Check Out

    There are three similar posts I've read recently I wanted to point you to. All three have different takes on "newbies." Not in what they feel about them (I'm listing them because all three are all for supporting new members to the genealogy community) but in the purpose of the post. They're all similar, though, in making sure seasoned genealogists aren't "that guy" that is turning newcomers away (some do it on purpose but many do it unintentionally).

    If you're new (or just feel you're new), you will hopefully get the feeling you're welcome. Should you come up against someone full of negativity, you can hopefully take Jenna's advice which is why I've included it.

    I had previously read Kerry's post (before Amy linked to it) and it made me stop and look more closely at my DNA matches and think about what she said.

    When you're in your genealogy bubble (those moments when you're just thinking about doing genealogy, not about playing nice with others in the sandbox) it's easy to forget what you say and do can have more impact than you mean. You often feel like you're just one of the genealogists but someone else sees you as someone with experience (if you're reading this, you are probably more experienced than many of the people who have taken an AncestryDNA test, even if you're just getting started).

    I appreciate the sentiments from these ladies. We've all been new at genealogy at some point. Being courteous and welcoming to those coming behind you (even if you're barely in the door) is important. It's one of the reasons I've stuck with genealogy so long. I love getting together with my fellow genealogists. It was the first group I actually felt I belonged (despite, at the time, a 20+ year age difference between me and the average genealogist).

    Let’s Stop Hand Wringing About DNA and Genealogy (Amy Johnson Crow)
    Genealogy Changed Dramatically in 2016. I Can Prove It. (Kerry Scott from "Clue Wagon")
    Genealogy Elitism, Shake It Off This Is Your Journey (Jenna Mills from "Desperately Seeking Surnames")


    Do you know about Family Tree Magazine's monthly challenges?

    For January it's 31 Days of Family History Fitness
    You can subscribe to these via email or check them out on their website (the above link)
    If you like my series, "The Lunchtime Genealogist" this is similar but without the narrow focus of tasks you can do during a lunch break and also a changing focus each month.

    Have you found an article on the Internet you'd like to share with other Occasional Genealogists? It doesn't have to be something new, just something you loved or found helpful. Share a link in the comments and briefly tell us what you liked about the article.
    13 January 2017

    Cousin Baiting: What is It, Should You Do It?

    Cousin baiting is exactly like deer baiting in its purpose which is why the term is used. Not from a long line of hunters? Confused?  Should you put out a pile of grandma's cookies to lure your cousins in? And why would you want cousins to come around, anyway (is that only a question with my family)?

    05 January 2017

    Resolve to Do More Research

    This post is a follow-up to last week's "resolutions" post. I suggest heading over to read it first, if you haven't.

    This post is specifically about resolving to do more research, not just more "genealogy" which involves more than just research. If you want to do more research, you need a realistic understanding of what time you have available and what else you need to do genealogically. The first post covers those topics.

    Research is the fun part of genealogy (if you didn't think so, you wouldn't do genealogy at all). Failing at resolutions is awful so I want you to make the right resolution for YOU. "Do more research" just isn't actionable enough.

    Here's a "secret." If you do the right non-research tasks, you'll be so excited and prepared to do research, it will happen. Unfortunately, those "right" tasks are personal to you so I can't just hand you an easy list to get you to that magic point where you make more research happen. Go read the resolutions post to start thinking about what it'll take to create an actionable and realistic "do more research" resolution.

    OK, at this point you've either read the other post or you're not going to, so let's talk about doing more research.
    How do you create an actionable resolution to do more genealogy research? Customize it to your situation using these suggestions.

    The Key to More Research but Not the "Do More Research" Resolution